June 18, 2012

“Yes, prosecutors blundered terribly by piling on charges and piling on defendants, just because they could.

“Yes, some of the parents became hysterical and acted out of guilt. That’s the way people act when told their children have been sexually abused – by someone to whom they entrusted them, to whom they personally delivered them every day.

“And here’s another thing the experts are right about. The children weren’t perfect witnesses. They got mixed up. They talked about spaceships and houses that walked.

“But that’s what it means to be a child, and what makes children prey to pedophiles. Children don’t know how to defend themselves. They’re easy to scare and apt to do what adults tell them to do.

“There is plenty to learn from the tragic mistakes in the Little Rascals case. But the final tragedy would be to conclude that child sex abuse is some sort of figment of our social imagination, and not the very real predator it is.”

– From a column by Lorraine Ahearn in the Greensboro News & Record (June 1, 1997)

As previously mentioned, journalists were among those who just couldn’t believe nothing happened at Little Rascals.

Ms. Ahearn, who covered part of Bob Kelly’s trial before becoming a columnist, has changed her line of work since 1997 – has she also changed her mind about ritual sex abuse at day cares? Apparently not:

“I am no longer a working journalist, and I am not interested in weighing in.

“You may glean whatever you wish from the (column). I did cover the trial as a reporter and that was what my column was based upon, not second-hand views about unrelated cases.”

I’d be the last to disparage shoe-leather reporting, but it’s those “second-hand views about unrelated cases” – from journalists such as Debbie Nathan and social scientists such as Stephen Ceci and Maggie Bruck – that enable us to comprehend the incomprehensible.

●  ●  ●

Do I ever tire of asking the Lorraine Ahearns, the David Finkelhors, the Kathleen Coulborn Fallers, the H.W. Williamses, the Elisabeth Porter-Hurds and the Michele L. Zimmermans, “Have you changed your mind?”

Well, yes, I do. But do they ever tire of insisting they haven’t?